Eric Thorsen

GM Retail/CPG Hortonworks
  • Posted on: 07/20/2017

    How much Big Data do retailers really need?

    Brian, I always enjoy your viewpoint and love this conversation! As a proponent of "Big Data" I often omit the adjective. Simply put, retailers I talk to struggle with Data. I spoke with a CIO in the specialty segment a few months ago and she said, "Eric I don't have Big Data," but further discussion revealed that she had complex data, unstructured data, and distributed data. The challenge was to simply collect and manage all the data in a comprehensive and effective way. Only then could she and her business team achieve the personalization that is so important to driving basket size and conversion. Regardless of the descriptor, data is becoming the new center of gravity. Maybe not through mass, but through variety. Collecting data in its raw form at detailed line item level and storing in a future-proof platform allows the business model to adjust. Yes, retailers should continually evaluate and adjust business models. We are in an environment of changing demographics, demanding millennials with mobile devices, and a hyper-competitive digital arena. Whether a retailer changes or not, the marketplace is changing around them. Many of these signals and data points are available by simply listening to social sentiment. It becomes critical to any forward-thinking retailer to harvest insight from these data points in a secure and scalable way. While data may not be big to some retailers, it most certainly will get there, and en route will certainly be complex!
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